30 Mar 2010

Large food estate development in Merauke will alienate Papuans, says NGO

8:38 am on 30 March 2010

The US-based West Papua Advocacy Team, or WPAT, says there are major environmental concerns over the Indonesian government's plan to develop a massive food estate in Papua province.

The government hopes the 1.6 million hectare Integrated Food and Energy Estate in Merauke will turn Indonesia into one of the world's biggest food producers, growing rice, sugar cane, soybeans and maize.

But WPAT is one of a number of NGOs warning the project would amount to a land grab.

WPAT's Ed McWilliams says the 700,000 hectares of forest which, it's estimaed, would need to be cleared for this vast estate is a vital source of food and life for Papuans.


IN:......It would entail using a lot of virgin forest. There's not enough production forest, as it's called, to really accomodate so large a project. And as a consequence, you're talking about also destruction of a great deal of virgin forest and that of course has severe environmental concern for many of us.

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Ed McWilliams